PE0354. STRIKE UP THE BAND (George & Ira Gershwin), restored by Tommy Krasker. 2-Roxbury 79273, Boxed Set w.Elaborate Booklet. Long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy!
“The two-CD package is the second and by far the most ambitious result of an ongoing plan by Elektra Nonesuch and the Ira Gershwin estate’s Roxbury Recordings to issue authentic versions of all of the Gershwins’ musical theater productions.
‘There wasn’t much to go on when we got started’, said Tommy Krasker, Roxbury’s vice president in charge of production, and the recording’s principal restoration expert. ‘We finally put it together, almost literally piece by piece’, explained Krasker. ‘Fortunately, we had the director’s version of the original Kaufman script, with instructions to the Gershwins as to where the music was to go, and they very much followed his instructions. We also had some lyrics, a few orchestral parts, some piano-vocal scores, and a number of sketches. There was virtually no music to work with, although the lyric sheet had survived’, Krasker said. ‘Kay Swift, a composer and dear friend of George and Ira’s, had, in the ‘40s, reconstructed the song’s refrain from memory. But there was no music for the verse at all, and no one could remember how it went. We could have just used the song’s refrain. But I thought the verse was critical to set up the relationship between the leading man and the leading lady. So I went to Burton Lane, who is, of course, a very great songwriter, a friend of George and Ira’s and a collaborator with Ira’. Krasker asked Lane if he would consider writing new music for Ira’s lyrics to the verse. Lane agreed, and his contribution on the album is the only music that isn’t Gershwin.
Krasker’s assemblage bristles with Gershwin vigor and wit. Equally important, the Ira and Lenore Gershwin trusts, through Roxbury Recordings, provided resolute sponsorship and support in the successful effort to prepare the 1927 STRIKE UP THE BAND.
Roxbury, a proprietary company of the Ira Gershwin estate, was energized by Ira’s widow, Lenore, who, until her death was determined to present the brothers’ entire catalogue of works to the public as George and Ira Gershwin wanted them to be heard.
The project was undoubtedly aided by the musical aura that pervades the Ira and Lenore Gershwin home in Beverly Hills - the office of Roxbury Recordings. George Gershwin’s piano sits in the living room, and it was here that Ira produced his post-George lyrics in partnerships with, among others, Harold Arlen, Kurt Weill and Jerome Kern. The house next door, now occupied by singer Rosemary Clooney, was the Gershwin brothers’ first Los Angeles residence, and the birthplace of most of the songs they wrote for Hollywood film musicals.
Krasker, a 1981 graduate of Yale, has been with Roxbury since 1986, where his first job was the cataloguing of a treasure trove of Gershwin manuscripts discovered in 1982 at the Warner Bros. Music Warehouse in Secaucus, N.J.
Hearing the unpublished songs is a startling experience. It seems beyond question that once they have been heard and sung-by contemporary performing artists, several new Gershwin works will take their place in the standard repertoire, half a century after their creation. And that will suit Krasker and Roxbury just fine. Lenore Gershwin’s goal, above all else, was to keep the Gershwin music alive and true to its source.”
- Don Heckman, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, 19 Jan., 1992